Legislative Memo

Johnny Evers
Director of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511


S.6090 (Little) /A.10620 (Morelle)



Wireless broadband eligible facility permitting act



June 9, 2016


The Business Council of New York State, the state’s leading statewide business and industry association, strongly supports S.6090 to amend the general municipal law in relation to enacting the "wireless broadband eligible facility permitting act" providing for uniform municipal regulation of certain wireless facilities.

Robust and reliable telecommunications networks are essential to the state’s economy, continued economic growth, and play a key role in public safety, particularly in regards to 911 calls. This legislation is designed to enact a statewide, uniform process for eligible wireless facility upgrades that will encourage the industry’s continued capital deployment in New York State. The bill also provides clear guidance and direction throughout the process in order to harmonize New York’s siting process with federal requirements.

This legislation is intended to ease burdens on local governments related to the wireless siting process, particularly by reducing administrative costs due to unnecessary zoning requirements and litigation pertaining to violation of federal requirements. Local governments retain their ability to exercise zoning and land use authority and to approve or deny permits consistent with state and federal laws under this legislation. However, in 2009, after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules establishing timeframes for final decisions on new towers and alterations to existing infrastructure, many states adopted laws to insure localities were aware of the set deadline under federal law. This legislation enacts similar guidelines to facilitate broadband deployment here in New York State. The law goes no further than what is currently required of local governments by the FCC. Simply stated, this legislation makes all of the players aware of the FCC rules and regulations within local communities, thus precluding unnecessary paperwork, litigation, or delays.

By conforming state law and local processes with federal law, this legislation provides an incentive for wireless carriers to maximize co-location at existing wireless facilities. Clarity and uniformity between local, state and federal law will prove particularly helpful in rural communities that are seeking wireless coverage while simultaneously lowering tower costs for providers expanding the marketplace on behalf of the consumer.

This new “road map” also aids local governments - many of which may not even be aware of federal timelines for approval or denial - by making it clear what the FCC requires under its “shot clock” order (the maximum amount of time allowed for approval or denial). The expansion of network capacity through co-location on existing wireless facilities will directly aid in the expansion of coverage in areas previously underserved.

For the above reason, The Business Council supports this legislation and urges its passage.